Compagnia fanteria A.S. 42

jwsleser

Member
Staff member
#1
Posted 02 May 2011 - 04:08 PM bay Montbrun

As of the AS42 Organization, the Rifle Companies of the Infantry, Motorized Infantry, and Bersaglieri units in North Africa had the following organization:

Compagnia Fanteria
--Squadra Comando – 1 x Captain, 1 x NCO, 9 x EM
----Transport – 4 x Cars, 3 x Heavy Trucks, 7 x EM Drivers
--Plotone Fucilieri
----Comando – 1 x Jumior Officer, 1 x EM
----Squadra Fucilieri – 1 x NCO, 2 x Senior EM, 8 x EM, 2 x LMG
----Squadra Fucilieri – 1 x NCO, 2 x Senior EM, 8 x EM, 2 x LMG
----Squadra Fucilieri – 1 x NCO, 2 x Senior EM, 8 x EM, 2 x LMG
--Plotone Mitraglieri
----Comando – 1 x Jumior Officer, 1 x EM
----Squadra Mitraglieri – 1 x NCO, 1 x Senior EM, 5 x EM, 1 x HMG
----Squadra Mitraglieri – 1 x NCO, 1 x Senior EM, 5 x EM, 1 x HMG
----Squadra Mitraglieri – 1 x NCO, 1 x Senior EM, 5 x EM, 1 x HMG
--Plotone c.c. da 20 o 25
----Comando – 1 x Jumior Officer, 2 x EM
----Squadra Controcarro – 1 x NCO, 6 x EM, 1 x 20mm Solothurn ATR or 25mm ATG (Captured French)
----Squadra Controcarro – 1 x NCO, 6 x EM, 1 x 20mm Solothurn ATR or 25mm ATG (Captured French)
----Squadra Controcarro – 1 x NCO, 6 x EM, 1 x 20mm Solothurn ATR or 25mm ATG (Captured French)
--Plotone c.c da 47/32
----Comando – 1 x Jumior Officer, 2 x EM
----Squadra c.c da 47/32 – 1 x NCO, 10 x EM, 1 x 47/32 ATG
----Squadra c.c da 47/32 – 1 x NCO, 10 x EM, 1 x 47/32 ATG
----Squadra c.c da 47/32 – 1 x NCO, 10 x EM, 1 x 47/32 ATG

The three Heavy Trucks in the Company HQ were used to tow the antitank guns, and haul the antitank rifles and HMGs.

SOURCE:
NARA Records Group 242, Microcopy T821, Roll 21, File IT111
“Formazioni Provvisorie di Guerra – Comandi, Reparti e Servizi in A.S. – Fascicolo C – Fanteria,” Stato Maggiore R. Esercito, Ufficio Ordinamento
 

jwsleser

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Staff member
#3
Yes an interesting comparison. It appears the Germans were coming to the same conclusions as the Italians in the role/requirements of the infantry in A.S.

To fully appreciate the similarities and differences, we would need to look at the divisional structure of the Italian and German units in A.S. The Italian structure changed quite a bit, mainly disbanding existing divisional support elements to provide those assets at the company level. One of the main reasons for the new Italian structure was to reduce the number of trucks, understanding that units designated as motorizzato would have additional trucks to move the maneuver battalions/companies.

From Andreas' information, I am wondering if the number of infantry in the German organization changed. The A.S. 42 structure reduced the number of infantry in the regiments.

Pista! Jeff
 
#4
So Dr Richard Carrier was right when he wrote that the Germans had a thing or two to learn from the Italians. (Dr. R.Carrier,
'Some Reflections on the Fighting Power of the Italian Army in North Africa, 1940–1943' War in History, 2015, vol 22 (4) 503 -528).
 

jwsleser

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Staff member
#5
It is possible but unlikely. Both armies recognized the need for increased firepower at the company level due to the dispersed nature of the defense in A.S. The Italians were also dealing with their lack of transport and ineffective contrcarro weapons, problems not shared by their German brethren.

I feel the changes are fundamentally different between the two armies. The German changes are limited in scope and appears to be mainly increasing/moving heavy weapons to a lower echelon. If you look at the chart provided by Andreas, the infantry component in the proposed organization remains unchanged (three line companies and three line companies), while the heavy weapons companies becomes a fourth line company. You can't tell whether the company structure itself was changed in any other way from the information available to us.

The Italian change was significantly greater. The company structure was completely reworked, reducing the infantry component while adding heavy weapons. The was done as the Italians understood that their controcarro capabilities were limited and the desire/need to reduce the transport requirements of their units due to their inability to provide the necessary trucks to motorized their forces. The result was a unit strong in defensive firepower but almost incapable of offensive action. The German unit appears to have retained its offensive capability.

While they shared one common issue, the Italian reorganization went much further to addresses their other weaknesses.

Pista! Jeff
 
#6
So Dr Richard Carrier was right when he wrote that the Germans had a thing or two to learn from the Italians. (Dr. R.Carrier,
'Some Reflections on the Fighting Power of the Italian Army in North Africa, 1940–1943' War in History, 2015, vol 22 (4) 503 -528).
Maybe Germans and Italians just learned together. Both were new to modern armored warfare in the desert condition.

It's also interesting to note "modular" structure of Italian AS-42 organization, which easily allowed to increase or reduce regimental strength without inconvenient reorganization: just add or remove companies (and HQs, if necessary).
 

Annales

New Member
#7
Yes, I think you are right Eugen. Desert warfare was a new thing, for the Italians and even more so for the Germans. Before North Africa, did the Germans ever fight a conventional, mechanized war in the desert?
But the Italians definitely had more experience of the desert and warfare in it. They were in Libya after defeating the Ottoman Turks in 1912. They were also in Somalia and later, invaded Ethiopia in 1935 and took it over by 1936. They were in Eritrea even earlier.

So I do believe the Italians had significantly more experience than the Germans, especially in logistics and its limitations due to the extreme environment, terrain, temperatures and scarcity of water, etc,.

Knowing the Germans, especially the Nazis with their sense of racial superiority and heightened arrogance, they would have arrived in Tripoli with a certain, "get out of our way, here we come!" attitude.

I strongly suspect that the Italians tried to advise and warn Rommel and his officers on a number of occasions concerning the logistical and practical limitations of fighting a conventional war in arid and semi-arid conditions, and I equally strongly suspect, their advice was disregarded.

The Germans, including Rommel, had a bad habit of blaming the Italians when things did not go according to plan, even when generals like Bastico and Baldasarre tried to warn them.

And as they say, the rest is history!!
 
#8
I think you are absolutely right regarding Nazis and their sense of racial superiority.
However, I did add "modern" and "armored" to "warfare in the desert conditions". The only Italian experience of modern armored warfare in the desert conditions was Special Tank Brigade in early 1941. The rest of the Italian experience in armor use in the desert was armored support of the infantry or cavalry.
 

Annales

New Member
#9
and heightened arrogance
Eugen, you forgot to mention the last clause of the sentence.

Weren't the Italians the first European country to use tanks (the Fiat 3000) in desert conditions in 1928 to pacify Libya against the Senussi rebels? Can you explain the role of the "Special Tank Brigade in 1941". It's the first time I've heard of it.

So the Italians did in fact, have more desert experience than the Germans, not just in the employment of tanks, but in the wider context of transporting logistics, etc,.
 
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#10
Weren't the Italians the first European country to use tanks (the Fiat 3000) in desert conditions in 1928 to pacify Libya against the Senussi rebels? Can you explain the role of the "Special Tank Brigade in 1941". It's the first time I've heard of it.
No, the first nation to use tanks in desert conditions were British in 1917 (in Palestine).

As for STB = BCS, you can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babini_Group It was the first Italian attempt to create modern combined arms armored force and not some infantry or cavalry support unit. And they failed to use it properly.
 

jwsleser

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Staff member
#11
Can you explain the role of the "Special Tank Brigade in 1941". It's the first time I've heard of it.
I believe Eugen is referring to the brigata corazzata speciale, commonly referred to as the Babini Armored Brigade.

Let us not overvalue the Italian's years of experience in A.S. From Carrier:

Among all the shortcomings of the Italian army, one of the most incomprehensible was the lack of a modern armored reconnaissance car in 1940. Despite years of Italian presence in Libya, the importance of exploration, and long-range reconnaissance was undervalued. (pp. 514-515)
Not a ringing endorsement of the Italians learning from experience.
 
#12
No, the first nation to use tanks in desert conditions were British in 1917 (in Palestine).

As for STB = BCS, you can read about it here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Babini_Group It was the first Italian attempt to create modern combined arms armored force and not some infantry or cavalry support unit. And they failed to use it properly.
Yes, the Brits did use tanks against the Turks in Palestine in 1917, but the whole enterprise was a failure. At least the Italians had more success with their tanks against the Sanussi tribesmen.
 
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